Britons in France: Five groups 'at risk' of missing card deadline

As Britons' residency card deadline looms campaigners have put out a warning. Results have also been published of recent surveys, including reasons why some have yet to apply

18 June 2021
By Liv Rowland

Campaign coalition British in Europe has identified five categories of people they believe to be especially at risk of missing the residency card applications June 30 deadline in 12 days time.

According to BiE those who risk missing the deadline include: 

1.   ‘Dawdlers’ who have not yet got round to collecting the paperwork they need to apply

2.   The elderly and vulnerable with little or no access to the internet and with French-speaking carers

3.   Young adults who grew up in France and are fully-integrated in French families

4.   Those who have been in France for decades, often with French spouses and possibly holding old residency permits, some of whom no longer read English news or even identify as British

5.   Nationals of other non-EU countries who are close family members of Britons and whose residency rights are linked to theirs. They also have the right to apply for a WA card, and must do so by the same deadline.

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement states that Britons may be authorised to apply in a ‘reasonable’ time after the deadline if there are ‘legitimate reasons justifying the fact they did not respect the initial date’. France has not clarified what may be included under this. 

It comes as Facebook group for Britons in France Rift has published results of its latest residency card surveys which were aimed at Britons in France and close non-EU family whose rights are linked to theirs.

The first was for those who have applied for cards and received an acknowledgement email but have since heard nothing back from their prefecture; the second was for those who have not applied at all. The surveys were open from June 5 until Monday this week (June 14).

Some 1,291 responded to the first survey and 132 to the second.

In the latter case nine people were nervous they would not be granted residency, four did not know how to apply, 20 did not know if they needed to do so, 34 intended to meet the deadline and 54 had EU/EEA/Swiss dual nationality.

With regard to those who have applied but who have not yet been contacted by prefectures, Rift reminds respondents that prefectures have until October 1 to issue cards. However it advises checking your spam folder for any emails from the prefecture and ensuring you keep the original acknowledgment email safely as proof you applied (if you did not receive one, you should apply again).

See Rift’s survey results page for two suggested documents from the UK and French governments which can if necessary provide written evidence to employers or other bodies if they want proof that Britons in France do not need a residency card until October 1.

Rift says it is not essential to chase up your prefecture but if you wish to do so for reassurance, you should include a copy of the acknowledgement email or as a minimum, the application reference number and the date you applied.

It says the easiest way is likely to be via email, which you can find on the prefecture’s website, or otherwise send a letter by recorded delivery (lettre recommandée avec avis de réception).

The survey results page also gives information relating to common issues identified, including the fact that all adult Britons living in France last year must apply by June 30 unless they have another EU/EEA/Swiss nationality.

The latter can apply for a card optionally if they wish to hold one as physical evidence of rights under the Brexit WA deal, however campaign groups report that applications from French citizens are not being accepted.

Those who already have an EU citizens’ residency card, and no European dual nationality, must still apply for the new WA card.

Exceptions to the rule of applying by June 30 include minors as well as close family members of Britons who were living in France by the end of 2020 and who will join them in France at a later date. 

The former will apply when they are close to turning 18 and the latter will be required to apply within three months of arrival. These applications are expected to be via local prefectures, as the dedicated residency cards website is expected to close at the end of this month.

Read more

Surveys target Britons in France without a Brexit WA card 

Many Britons yet to apply for residency cards with 14 days to go 

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